Rochester Inn Review

Courtesy to

Courtesy to

Moreen McGrath, Staff Writer

What began as a quest to go to the Tomato Pie Cafe in North Park was severely detoured by my family’s collective inability to beat the dinner rush on a Saturday night. We arrived, observed the sizeable wait, and, a bit disappointedly, left to go to a different restaurant. Our second attempt at a place to eat led us to the Franklin Inn which, again, was as crowded as could be. Disheartened, we decided to follow Rochester Road back into North Hills territory, only to find ourselves that the Rochester Inn, seated upon entry.

The restaurant is a fair size, though the vast majority of the building is dedicated to the bar that is regrettably close to the compact dining room. This closeness combined with the boisterous nature of the bar goers created a noisy atmosphere that proved to be an occasional barrier to conversation. Despite this, the Rochester Inn was quite hospitable and easy-going — the waitress keeping a perfect eye on our table, our drinks constantly filled, and knowledgeable advice on what we may like based on our tastes.

For the price of the average meal, the Rochester Inn’s portions are quite fair, though rather inconsistent in their quality. I ordered a cup of the seasonal butternut squash soup and a grilled salmon salad and tried a few of the Asian potsticker appetizers that my mom ordered. While the potstickers were fine, I was severely underwhelmed by the quality of my salad. The salmon itself was cooked well, but it came on a bed of iceburg lettuce with a meagre scattering of sweet potato fries, banana peppers, tomatoes, onions, and hard boiled eggs beneath. The actual salad element to my salmon salad did not work well with the salmon at all, and quite frankly looked like a shoddy attempt to get something on my plate. While I acknowledge that the Rochester Inn is probably a place where the average person goes to get a burger and fries, if I’m going to be charged eleven dollars for a salad, it should compare to the kind of eleven dollar salads I’ve had (and actually enjoyed) at other restaurants of a similar calibre. Despite this disappointment, my entire night was both saved and made by the butternut squash soup. I will forever be in awe of this soup. Wow. I want to be eating it right now. The soup itself was a perfect temperature and was complimented excellently by the crunchy cinnamon sugar croutons on top. The dish tasted like the fall looks. It was fantastically cozy and a more savory alternative to Panera’s (still fantastic) Autumn Squash Soup.

After we all ate our food, my brother having a buffalo chicken salad and my mom having the chicken fajitas, we paid the check and stayed for a while, as the restaurant had largely cleared by 8:30. Someone near the jukebox was on a Bon Jovi kick, so we sat and listened for a while, talking about my brother’s military enlistment and the college application process before deciding to head home for the night.

In all, the Rochester Inn proved to be a casual, spirited grill with well-priced, filling dishes. Though it probably wouldn’t be my first (or second) option, it proved to be a fine backup-backup and left all members of my family feeling full.